A Highway 91 widening project is stopped for the weekend by transportation officials as a new highway section being lowered into place over a Corona street suddenly broke and dropped almost a foot. It struck the wooden support beams that hit the workers who were working when the incident happened.
According to the Riverside County Transportation Commission, the incident left 9 workers injured from which 3 are in serious condition, 8 from all the injured were in hospital on 10th of October.
Highway 91 was open for travelers but the East Grand Boulevard was shut down for investigation and will reopen on Monday.
On Saturday, Riverside County Transportation Commission executive director Anne Mayer said about the project stop, “Anytime there is a serious accident involving injuries on a construction site it is imperative to stop, re-examine and re-emphasize the overall safer procedures on the project”.
Officials told that the incident occurred when the workers were lowering a new section of the widened highway into place on the eastbound lanes; something wrong happened due to which the bridge deck dropped almost 16 inches. The bridge deck hit wooden support beams, which then hit the workers who sustained life-threatening injuries.
Spokeswoman for the transportation commission, Eliza Echevarria said, “The Bridge is seated in the proper position and inspections of the bridge have been made by the project structural engineering team”.
Louis Marroquon, who lives in the 800 block of Quarry Street, told on Friday night when he heard a loud noise, “It sounded like thunder. It was a big sound”. Then he heard the voice of sirens and went out of his home to see what is happening then he heard the voices of people weeping. “It was a big deal going on”.
The Riverside County Transportation Commission confirmed that all the individuals who sustained injuries while working are associated with the Atkinson Walsh Construction Joint Venture.
To investigate the incident and to know the reason of the accident, investigators from Atkinson Walsh, RCTC and the California Occupation Safety and Health Administration worked in collaboration.
According to Mayer, a forensic engineer will be hired by Atkinson Walsh who has no link with the project to determine what caused the deadly incident and why the bridge collapsed.
Jan Bohn is the manager of the Atkinson Walsh project and according to him, safety was given priority for the whole period of time while the workers were working on the project. He also said that the team is in sorrow due to the incident. He added, “Everyone goes home every day, that’s a big deal to us. We failed yesterday”.
In the month of July 2014, the SR-91 Project, worth $1.4 billion, was started and it is one of two major projects along Highway 91 in Riverside County. 2 tolled express lanes in both directions on Highway 91 will be extended from the border of Orange/Riverside counties to Interstate 15. One regular lane will also be added in both directions from the Interstate 15/Highway 91 interchange to Pierce Street in Riverside and it will make five local interchanges better, as well as the Interstate 15/Highway 91 interchange. It was scheduled to complete in the year 2017.
RCTC spokeswoman Echevarria told that it is separate from another Highway 91 widening project that starts almost 5 miles east of Pierce Street and the project working schedule is not altered due to the incident that collapsed the bridge. The project which amounts to $248 million, was started in the month of March in 2012 and its completion is scheduled for the month of December 2015.
News Source: www.OCRegister.com